ADRIAN, Mich. – The Adrian College women's volleyball (5-7, 12-14) team kept their playoff hopes alive by beating Saint Mary's (Ind.)(6-5, 11-10), 3-1, in Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association play, Tuesday night at the Merillat Sport & Fitness Center.
The Bulldogs rallied to take the match by winning the final two sets, 25-22 and 25-19. The Bulldogs took the first set (25-17) before allowing the Belles to tie the match in the second set (14-25).
The turning point came late in the third set with the match tied 1-1. The Bulldogs were down late, 18-20, but got seven of the last nine points to win the set, 25-22. Casey Donovan's service ace gave Adrian the lead at 22-21, and then Ellie Mindick also delivered an ace that all but sealed the set at 24-22.
"This win was huge. All the remaining matches are virtually must-wins," said Adrian head coach David Kwan. "We got stuck in a bad rotation in the second set and weren't able to have the right people in the right positions. We defended against them well. This was a good match for several of our players, who came through when they were called upon. I am really seeing growth and maturation with our younger girls."
Adrian scored the last 11 points of the first set to win it after the Belles had the lead for almost the entire set. Adrian took an early 2-1 lead, but Saint Mary's had the lead or a share of it up until the teams were tied at 17. Once the Bulldogs went up 18-17, their first lead since 2-1, they got every point until the set's end.
The Bulldogs started the second set with the same dominance they had ended the first, going up 7-4 early. But then, Adrian accounted for only seven of the next 28 points, in part due to the player's rotation. However, once the rotation was favorably restored, Adrian won four of the last five points. That last surge provided the momentum that helped them win the pivotal third set where they took six of the first seven points in a see-saw battle until very late in the set when the Bulldogs went on the previously aforementioned run of getting seven of the last nine points to win the set, 25-22.
In the final (fourth) set, the Bulldogs opened with a carbon copy of the previous set by going up 6-1. This time however, they carried that domination and never looked back. The Bulldogs never trailed and were in complete command in the fourth and deciding set.
Defensively, Kristi Walker and DeClercq accounted for almost half of the team's 60 digs, with 14 and 13, respectively. Brisson had four block assists, while Stephanie Holloman and Linnea Berriman each added three.
The win not only put Adrian closer to the fourth and final playoff spot in the conference, but it helped hold off one of the teams it had been chasing (Saint Mary's). Currently, Alma and Saint Mary's are tied for that final spot with each having six wins and a game in-hand over Adrian, who has five conference wins.
Tonight's win for Adrian avenges the first matchup between the teams, Sept. 12, when the Belles won 3-1.
The team will next travel to Albion on Friday, October 19th with a 6:30 p.m. start time.